Thilina D. Surasinghe

Thilina D. Surasinghe
Bridgewater State University · Department of Biological Sciences

PhD
Biological Responses to wetland restoration, biological invasions

About

101
Publications
68,851
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
418
Citations
Introduction
I am a wildlife ecologist with specialization in environmental science and conservation biology. I earned my PhD from Clemson University, USA with my research focus on the impacts of current and historical land uses on stream ecosystems. My research focuses on community organization and biotic homogenization along urban-rural gradients; landscape-scale conservation planning; conservation of endangered wildlife; revision of environmental policies; and ecology of freshwater ecosystems.
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - August 2015
Rhodes College
Position
  • Research Assistant
Description
  • Environmental Science, Conservation Biology, Environmental Issues of Southern Africa
July 2014 - August 2015
Rhodes College
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
September 2013 - August 2014
Gustavus Adolphus College
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
March 2008 - August 2013
Clemson University
Field of study
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Biology
January 2001 - October 2004
University of Colombo
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (101)
Article
Full-text available
Understanding patterns and drivers of species distribution and abundance, and thus biodiversity, is a core goal of ecology. Despite advances in recent decades, research into these patterns and processes is currently limited by a lack of standardized, high‐quality, empirical data that span large spatial scales and long time periods. The NEON fills t...
Article
Full-text available
Bats perform critical ecosystem functions, including the pollination, seed dispersal, and regulation of invertebrate populations. Yet, bat populations are declining worldwide primarily due to habitat loss and other anthropogenic stressors. Thus, studies on bat ecology, particularly on environmental determinants of bat occupancy, are paramount to th...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the drivers of community stability in times of increasing anthropogenic pressure is an urgent issue. Biodiversity is known to promote community stability, but studies of the biodiversity–stability relationship rarely consider the full complexity of biodiversity change. Furthermore, finding generalities that hold across taxonomic group...
Article
Full-text available
Riparian zones are critical for functional integrity of riverscapes and conservation of riverscape biodiversity. The synergism of intermediate flood-induced disturbances, moist microclimates, constant nutrient influx, high productivity, and resource heterogeneity make riparian zones disproportionately rich in biodiversity. Riparian vegetation inter...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological responses of nocturnal predatory birds to forest cover and other geospatial predictors vary both geographically and taxonomically. Considerable knowledge gaps exist regarding the habitat associations of the Sri Lanka Frogmouth, a nocturnal bird restricted to Sri Lanka and the Indian Western Ghats. Via a 20-year island-wide survey, we sea...
Article
Full-text available
Wetlands perform critical ecological functions and provide wildlife habitats. Yet, wetland degradation continues at a global scale. In Massachusetts, USA, wetland restoration has reached remarkable heights, partly promoted by the retirement of cranberry bogs. In this study, to assess the effectiveness of cranberry-farm restoration for conservation...
Article
Full-text available
It is a critical time to reflect on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) science to date as well as envision what research can be done right now with NEON (and other) data and what training is needed to enable a diverse user community. NEON became fully operational in May 2019 and has pivoted from planning and construction to operatio...
Article
Full-text available
Providing physical protection to wildlife is among the most high-risk professions in the conservation sector as it is directly associated with the prevention of wildlife crimes. In Sri Lanka, the Department of Wildlife Conservation is the primary government agency responsible for the long-term conservation and protection of biological diversity. Si...
Data
Detailed list (from DWC) of locations of field officers and causes of death of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) who died whilst on duty from July 1957 to December 2020.
Article
Full-text available
A core goal of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is to measure changes in biodiversity across the 30‐yr horizon of the network. In contrast to NEON’s extensive use of automated instruments to collect environmental data, NEON’s biodiversity surveys are almost entirely conducted using traditional human‐centric field methods. We belie...
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding patterns and drivers of species distributions and abundances, and thus biodiversity, is a core goal of ecology. Despite advances in recent decades, research into these patterns and processes is currently limited by a lack of standardized, high-quality, empirical data that spans large spatial scales and long time periods. The National...
Article
Full-text available
The genus Ceratophora (horn-lizards) comprises six species, all of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. Herein, a new species of Ceratophora is described based on morphological and molecular evidence. The new species is restricted to the Salgala Forest (~300 m asl elevation) in the Kegalle District of Sri Lanka, which is in the northern part of the wet...
Article
Full-text available
During the worldwide shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many reports emerged of urban wildlife sightings. While these images garnered public interest and declarations of wildlife reclaiming cities, it is unclear whether wildlife truly reoccupied urban areas or whether there were simply increased detections of urban wildlife during this...
Article
Full-text available
Forest-cover change has become an important topic in global biodiversity conservation in recent decades because of the high rates of forest loss in different parts of the world, especially in the tropical region. While human interventions are the major cause, natural disasters also contribute to forest cover changes. During the past decades, severa...
Article
Full-text available
Kelani River is the fourth longest river in the South-Asian island, Sri Lanka. It originates from the central hills and flows through a diverse array of landscapes, including some of the most urbanized regions and intensive land uses. Kelani River suffers a multitude of environmental issues: illegal water diversions and extractions, impoundment for...
Article
Full-text available
Three new day gecko species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 are described from three isolated granite cave habitats with rock walls in Bambaragala (Ratnapura District), Dimbulagala (Polonnaruwa District), and Mandaramnuwara (Nuwara-Eliya District) in Sri Lanka based on morphometric and meristic characters. All of these new species are assigned...
Article
Full-text available
The island of Sri Lanka is home to 21 species of draconid lizards including 19 (~90%) endemic species. Nearly 62% of these species are listed as threatened with 7 critically endangered, 5 endangered and 1 vulnerable, however this number may change as conservation status of four species described after 2012 are not assessed. A number of taxonomic re...
Article
Full-text available
Jaffna peninsula is quite an unexplored area of Sri Lanka's lowland dry zone. We constructed a species checklist for all herpetofauna of this area based on a short-term field survey, a comprehensive literature review, museum specimens, and observations made by field herpetologists. Based on 200 × 10 m belt transects, we surveyed herpetofauna both d...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Freshwater accounts for a minor fraction (0.01%) of the global water budget and occupies <1% of Earth's surface, yet supports nearly 10% of known species, including a third of global vertebrate diversity. Freshwater ecosystems constitute a multitude of natural resources that carry socioeconomic , scientific, and educational benefits. Yet, freshwate...
Conference Paper
Fish-free ephemeral wetlands are critical for life histories of numerous northern-temperate amphibians as mating and larval development take place in those habitats. Likewise, importance of forested landscapes for pond-breeding amphibians have also been well established. Yet, importance of local-scale habitat features and landscape-scale variations...
Conference Paper
In New England, cranberry farming dominated industrial agriculture throughout the 1900s, though outdated farming techniques have caused most of these cranberry farms to be taken out of production. New England’s now-retired cranberry farms were originally built in low-elevation coastal wetlands or by impeding fluvial processes of sluggish high-order...
Conference Paper
Bioacoustic surveys have gained popularity in recent years, largely due to their versatility in rapid biodiversity assessments and long-term monitoring. Improved detection probabilities in acoustic surveys provide value in documenting occupancy of ecologically-cryptic, rare, and secretive species. Today the need for such monitoring is paramount, gi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The day geckos (Cnemaspis) are diminutive, slender-bodied geckos with crepuscular behavior. These geckos are mostly rupicolous with a few being arboreal and ground-dwelling. Most members of this genus have a cryptic morphology and coloration, which help in camouflage. Sri Lankan Cnemaspis clade has undergone much taxonomic revisions, where a number...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The island of Sri Lanka is home to 21 species of draconid lizards including 19 (~90%) endemic species. Nearly 62% of these species are listed as threatened with 7 critically endangered, 5 endangered and 1 vulnerable, however this number may change as conservation status of four species described after 2012 are not assessed. A number of taxonomic re...
Conference Paper
Wetlands yield a multitude of environmental benefits, including flood mitigation, water purification, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and providing wildlife habitats. The US have lost over 50% of original wetland acreage due to urbanization and commercial agriculture. In the recent years, wetland restoration has become a cornerstone in...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence from flowing-water habitats has confirmed a role of turtles regarding the effective internal transport and viability of riparian plant seeds. We assessed potential propagule dispersal by Eastern painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) within a small river in Massachusetts and factors that may influence the diversity and abundance of egested prop...
Article
Full-text available
Six new day gecko species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 are described from geographically isolated forested hills (Bambarabotuwa, Kadugannawa, Kokagala, Kudumbigala, Maragala and Walapane) in Sri Lanka based on analyses of morphological and molecular traits. We provide an updated mtDNA-based genealogy of Sri Lankan Cnemaspis and provide furt...
Article
Full-text available
A new species of Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 is described from Nilgala Savannah Forest in Sri Lanka. The new species is diagnosed from all other congeners by the following suite of characters: small body size (SVL< 33 mm), dorsal scales on trunk homogeneous, one pair of post mentals separated by a single small chin scale, ventral scales on trunk smooth...
Article
Full-text available
Three new day gecko species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 are described from three isolated granite cave habitats with rock walls in Bambaragala (Ratnapura District), Dimbulagala (Polonnaruwa District), and Mandaramnuwara (Nuwara-Eliya District) in Sri Lanka based on morphometric and meristic characters. All of these new species are assigned...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Sri Lanka frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger) is a small-sized nocturnal bird largely restricted to tropical lowland forests with thick undergrowth. The motionless roosting posture as well as their plumage coloration and color patterns (which resemble that of tree stems and branches) enable them to camouflage and thereby avoid predation. Throu...
Article
Full-text available
The endemic Sri Lankan keelback (Balanophis ceylonensis) is a snake largely restricted to rainforests of the island. Based on an 11-years field survey covering 83 field sites and rescued specimens, we present an autecology of B. ceylonensis. We recorded 32 individuals of B. ceylonensis at 25 field sites. All snakes were found in 10 – 1000 m altitud...
Article
Full-text available
The homalopsid snake Gerarda prevostiana is known from parts of southern Asia and lives in coastal brackish-water habitats. For six years we surveyed 50 such habitats around the coastline of Sri Lanka and recorded the distribution and behaviour of this species. We also observed captive G. prevostiana to understand microhabitat use and behaviour. Du...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Mammalian conservation in Sri Lanka has mostly focused in the protected area network which only covers >30% of the nation's land area. Bats are relatively mobile and their overall fitness depends on landscape-scale features, including habitat suitability both inside and outside protected areas. To study the bat communities outside Sri Lankan conser...
Article
The homalopsid snake Gerarda prevostiana is known from parts of southern Asia and lives in coastal brackish-water habitats. For six years we surveyed 50 such habitats around the coastline of Sri Lanka and recorded the distribution and behaviour of this species. We also observed captive G. prevostiana to understand microhabitat use and behaviour. Du...
Article
Full-text available
Distribution of Kerivoula hardwickii, Hardwicke’s Woolly Bat, in Sri Lanka is restricted to the central highlands and to the northeastern region of the country, and so far, only recorded from four distinct locations. In Sri Lanka, this species was last documented in the year 1994 and no subsequent surveys recorded this species in Sri Lanka, thus co...
Article
Full-text available
In Sri Lanka, there are 31 species of bats distributed from lowlands to mountains. To document bat diversity and their habitat associations, 58 roosting sites in Maduru-Oya National Park periphery were surveyed. Fifteen bat species were recorded occupying 16 different roosting sites in this area. Among all the species recorded, Rhinolophusrouxii wa...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Biodiversity-rich tropical island of Sri Lanka is not isolated from ongoing global-scale biodiversity loss. Declining populations of native fauna and flora can be attributed to a plethora of human activities. Predominantly, such anthropogenic activities involve deforestation, invasive alien species, global environmental change, modifications in nat...
Article
Full-text available
Naja naja is broadly distributed in southern Asia and the only cobra species recorded from Sri Lanka. Throughout its continental Asian range, N. naja varies greatly in color pattern. Herein, we reported a new color morph of a juvenile N. naja in Sri Lanka.
Article
Direct or incidental ingestion of fruits or seeds by freshwater turtles can facilitate seed dispersal within and between bodies of water. Here, we evaluate Chrysemys picta (Eastern painted turtles) as a dispersal mode for hydrophytes and aimed to determine: 1) factors that drive diversity and abundance of egested seeds, 2) if certain regionally-com...
Article
Distribution of Kerivoula hardwickii, Hardwicke's Woolly Bat, in Sri Lanka is restricted to the central highlands and to the northeastern region of the country, and so far, only recorded from four distinct locations. In Sri Lanka, this species was last documented in the year 1994 and no subsequent surveys recorded this species in Sri Lanka, thus co...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Rapid expansion of road networks is not uncommon in and around protected areas of Sri Lanka where numerous national parks attract amasses of tourists annually. Therefore, we studied specific taxa/faunal groups susceptible to roadkills, how tourism impacts roadkills, and to provide recommendations to minimize wildlife roadkills in Sri Lanka.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There are 30 species of Chiropterans inhabiting the tropical Indian Oceanic Island of Sri Lanka, many of which are nationally threatened. These 30 species consist of four Megachiropterans and 26 Microchiropterans. Interestingly, despites geographical isolation, Sri Lanka does not possess any endemic Chiropterans. There is a paucity of long-term stu...
Article
Full-text available
Terrapins are integral to many freshwater ecosystems, yet are imperilled at a global scale. In Sri Lanka, terrapins are understudied; thus, much of their natural history and distribution status remain unknown. Such paucity of studies impedes conservation. In this study, 79 freshwater habitats located outside the protected area network of south-west...
Article
Full-text available
The Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is the second largest lizard species in Sri Lanka, and is well adapted to living in a variety of terrestrial habitats. Varanus bengalensis is a diurnal generalist predator, but sometimes function as a scavenger. Given the ecological plasticity and generalist foraging strategy of V. bengalensis, its feeding e...
Article
Full-text available
The Asian water monitor Varanus salvator is one of the largest species of lizard in the world and is widespread on the island of Sri Lanka. In the present study, we conducted a 7-month survey within a 5-km stretch in the urbanised Attanagalu-Oya river area to study habitat associations, mesohabitat use and behaviour of V. salvator in urban landscap...
Article
Full-text available
The Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is the second largest lizard species in Sri Lanka, and is well adapted to living in a variety of terrestrial habitats. Varanus bengalensis is a diurnal generalist predator, but sometimes function as a scavenger. Given the ecological plasticity and generalist foraging strategy of V. bengalensis, its feeding e...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Turtles are integral to freshwater and wetland ecosystem functions as herbivores, carnivores, and scavengers in food webs. Turtles have extensive home ranges and utilize numerous aquatic and woodland habitats to satisfy different life-history requirements; therefore, “fortress conservation” is inadequate in turtle conservation. We investigated popu...
Article
Full-text available
Impacts of roadkills are extensively documented in developed nations. Only a handful of studies on road mortality has emerged from developing nations where tourism and rural development have led to expansion of transportation networks. To fulfill such gaps, we conducted a survey to document roadkills in and around two tourism–heavy national parks o...
Conference Paper
Nerodia sipedon (Northern Water Snake [NWS]) inhabits aquatic habitats throughout North America, including eastern North America as well as parts of the Great Plains. NWS is a common, broadly distributed colubrid snake that is considered a habitat generalist. Recent studies have suggested that even common species may suffer population declines or l...